Davin School name and children’s rights among issues to be raised at public meeting

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February 28, 2018 by realrenewal

A group of Davin School parents and alumni are calling on the Regina Board of Education to move forward immediately on renaming their school in time for the next school year. They will present a resolution on the question to a special meeting of school electors this evening.

“Davin’s only contribution to education was promoting residential schools,” said Simon Moccasin, who will present the motion. “Why hum and haw? Naming a school for Davin is a historical injustice we can and should correct without delay.”

The school board has stated it is considering results of an online survey, and will render a decision soon. However school parent Sean Tucker, who authored the motion, says the survey had several design flaws and was misleading because it downplayed Davin’s contribution to the residential school system. Because trustees had input into the survey’s content, the group wants them to engage in “meaningful dialog with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation to fully understand the role of the 1879 Davin Report in establishing the residential school system.”

The board hasn’t acted on the Davin School Community Council’s request for a public education meeting on residential schools, Tucker said. As a result, a second motion calls for improved support for school communities to learn about the impact of residential schools and ongoing discrimination against Indigenous people.

The rights of children requiring intensive needs services will also be discussed. Brittany McDonald is one of many Regina parents struggling to find a place for her child in the public system. In the wake of provincial cuts, Regina Public cut its Discovery preschool programs, while at the same time the province’s in-home supports and education assistant funding have also dwindled.

“It’s a dark time for families of the vulnerable in Saskatchewan,” said McDonald. “Parents have to scale back their own employment because services for their children aren’t consistently available. We’re left scrambling for crumbs to create a cohesive education out of closed doors and the scraps of programs and services that previously existed.”

McDonald will present a motion that calls on the school board to prioritize programs for children with intensive needs — rather than making them the first cut – and to actively lobby the province for restored funding. The motion points out obligations under the Education Act and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to provide access to education without discrimination.

Other issues that will be presented at the meeting include support for a Respect for Human Diversity policy and peace education curriculum. “None of the students in our schools have ever known a time of peace. Their entire lives have been lived in a time of active war,” said Florence Stratton, who will present a motion on behalf of three Regina peace groups. “We will not survive a nuclear war between the great powers, so educating children about peaceful dispute resolution comes down to a matter of human survival.”

Regina residents used a clause in the Education Act to compel Regina Public to hold an open public assembly, after the board cancelled its annual meeting. Recent changes to the Education Act have greatly reduced requirements for public input into decision-making, including repealing annual electors’ meetings and weakening the public’s voice in school closures. The education advocacy group RealRenewal called attention to the changes and encouraged people to speak up.

At the meeting, residents will call on the board to stand up for electors’ rights rather than scuttling them. “It’s fine for the board to hold various engagement forums, but there still needs to be a place for guaranteed public rights under the Act, where residents can freely raise issues for discussion and hold their trustees to account,” said Stratton. The meeting will get underway at 7 p.m. Wednesday evening at the Regina Public School Division building at 1600-4th Ave.


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